Wednesday, January 24, 2007

How big is your baggage?

I have spent the past few weeks really trying to find a new center, a new focus in the eye of this anxiety storm. Little by little, I think I am finding my way through. I realize it is going to take time to undo what I have managed to do to myself - about 1+ years of it. Okay, if I am going to be really honest, probably 30+ years of it. So, I can't push myself too hard.

The one thing I didn't mention in my last update post and has resonated with me for a while now was that when I had my last therapy session, Dr. P was able to sum up so much of my life in one simple quote that came from my father many years ago: I am always the good girl. I was the one who kept the peace. The one who did it all, and strove to always do it well. The one who always kept at a task until no mistakes were made. No tasks were overlooked. Even if those tasks or peace-keeping were at the risk of my own personal health or feelings.

...Ahhh, definitely in agreement with the quote from today's For Women Who Do Too Much calendar:

"The mind can absorb no more than the seat can endure," by Janet Trasli
* Pushing through may be less productive than taking a break.

Bells are ring-a-ling-linging, aren't they???

Which got me to thinking... If this is the role I took over in my family, what role am I setting Chris up to play as he gets older?? What baggage will he carry?

I suppose, even in the best of households and families, everyone carries their baggage with them as they leave the nest - some carry a small carry-on bag they can tuck away without too much damage to the family they create, some have the full set of designer match luggage that will unpack itself with no thought to the consequences the unpacking will bring, and the rest fall somewhere in between with a modest suitcase.

I would say I am somewhere in the modest suitcase set.

When I first met Hubby in high school (yipes! 20 years ago come September 18th!), I was 14 years old...and I sooo envied his family the second I met him - both his immediate and extended families. They always seemed happy and enjoyed their company: laughing together, singing together, goofing around together. The loved their children immensely. They never fought. They took me in and really taught me what other families were like, because my family was quite different.

From as early as I could remember, my parents fought - very loud and very, very often. Sometimes, I would wake up in the middle of the night, scared to death, because they were at it so loud. I am sure the neighbors could hear the entire thing. They fought about money, they fought about chores to be done around the house, they fought about the trouble my sister and brother used to get into. Everything they could turn into an argument, they did (did I mention they are both Cancer's and they both got married to move out of their homes??).

And, I would cry my eyes out, hoping they would stop. Usually, my tears were all it took to quiet them down.

As my sister and brother got older, their adventures into pushing the edge got larger. My sister cut her hand open jumping a fence to get away from the police because her and her friends were hanging out where they didn't belong (wonder if this is where she ended up getting the "I gotta marry a cop" thing from?). My brother got caught cutting gym to smoke pot wit his friends; boosted my grandmother's car for a joy-ride; trashed my grandmother's shore house. And, well, that's just the start of it. My brother did much more than my sister - my sister turned out way more respectable...

...But, she is a "yeller" now and is repeating the cat-fight legacy.

My role in the house was the peace-keeper. My grades were always great - honor roll and honors program. My room was neat. I could play by myself or with friends and not get into trouble. I was involved with activities at school and babysat on the weekends. I had a steady boyfriend whose father drove us on dates for the first two years we dated - and I never had to be given a curfew because I was always home by 11:30 pm on a Saturday night.

I was the "good girl," which, of course, has spilled over into other areas of my life, like my job, my friends, etc., etc.

It's no wonder that I am where I am now.

Of course, though, my bubble did eventually burst as far as hubby's family was concerned. As you get older - along with your beau - you learn about the things that had gone on in his family that you were too young to really know about at the time. Hubby's maternal grandfather was an alcoholic for many, many years and robbed my MIL of her teenage years and her early married life. Hubby's paternal grandmother was a raging beoch and my MIL could never fair well in her eyes - EVER. She was never good enough for my FIL. They never wanted to only have one child - but the miscarriage of the twins when Hubby was about 8 years old and the fact that she never got pregnant again changed the plan of how many children they wanted. The list, of course, can go on and on...

The biggest thing for me was that I have made it a point to never have an argument with Hubby in front of Chris - I learned very early that real, drag-out fights never solved the issue. And, really, I don't think Hubby and I have ever had more than a handful of real raise-your-voice arguments in the 20 years we have known each other. So, we did manage to side-step that piece of family history... We do have disargeements - and, with them, sometimes we do let them out in front of Chris, but we try our best to never let those disagreements come out in a blaming, nasty way. It is good for him to learn how to have a disagreement and resolve it without voices raised. I am sure a disagreement here and there has fallen through the cracks - we are human after all and we can't always keep our cool. But, we are mindful of what those nasty agruments can do.

As I sit here writing this, I do wonder what Chris will be telling his friends someday about the "deep-dark secrets" of his childhood. Will his baggage be a small carry-on, or the designer set of match luggage, or somewhere in between?

I hope that, as I find myself again, that his will become a very small duffle-bag.

1 comment:

The Town Criers said...

Such an interesting post. Something I hadn't thought about before with the exception of something my sister once said. Her daughter told her that she knew her Mommy was a woman because women cooked and cleaned and took care of children. The reality was her daughter observed her taking care of everything and believed that's the fate that was in store for her too. My sister told me to always have our kids see each of us doing the "jobs" of the other so that they don't associate certain tasks with a certain parent. So I took in the garbage can today and my husband will cook dinner some time this weekend. It's interesting if her daughter will remember that in years to come...